The sun’s coming out, UC Davis students are gearing up for summer, and what better way to celebrate spring than spending a day at the fair?
The 134th annual Dixon May Fair, operating in this small agricultural community since 1875, kicks off Thursday and will last the whole weekend.
The fair will feature an abundance of rides, attractions and musical performances on various stages.
From crawlers in the Diaper Derby to 102-year-old flower growers such as Letha Cannon, the fair aims to represent the entire gamut of age groups, making for an environment where children, parents and grandparents alike can come together for wholesome family fun.
“People come there and want to come again,” said Ray McClursky, president of board of directors for Dixon May Fair. “There’s a certain charm in it, clean and safe … a charm that’s reminiscent of old state fairs.“
Musical acts scheduled to perform are 1970s group Cheap Trick on Thursday, singer-turned-actress Jessica Simpson on Friday and Stockton native Chris Isaak on Saturday. All shows begin at 7 p.m.
“There’s not a venue nearby that has such a great entertainment spot … you’d have to drive all the way up to a casino to get that, which is what makes the Dixon May Fair really special,” said Andrea Owen, marketing director for Butler Amusements.
Other bands will perform classic rock, Latin American, country, blues and a variety of other genres of music.
Every year, Butler Amusements tries to get rides that are fresh and fun, not only for children, but for adults as well, Owen said.
The Nitro is anticipated to be a popular addition. Made in Holland, it lifts people into the air 24 at a time with its seats spinning as it swings back and forth, giving riders a feeling of weightlessness.
“It’s basically a swinging pendulum, perfect for people who want a thrill but don’t like to go upside down,” Owen said.
Each ride will require three to five coupons. A day pass costs $28, individual ride coupons a dollar each.
Owen said those seeking dining options beyond hot dogs and cotton candy will find some healthier alternatives.
“This year we will serve sliced apples that guests can dip in caramel of their own volition, rather than buying one that’s already smothered in it,” Owen said.
In the mood for something with a little more kick than apples or cotton candy? The wine-tasting pavilion will be open until 10 p.m., for those who’d care to wind down or experience some spinny sensations prior to hitting the Tilt-A-Whirl.
Guests too young to enjoy a sip of wine can turn to the comedy of “Dr.Goodjohn,” otherwise known as Ernie Guderjahn of Murrieta, an accomplished comedian who has written, directed, produced and performed shows for such parks as Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. With two degrees in theater arts, Guderjahn has been performing since 1957.
If Dr. Goodjohn’s lively antics still aren’t doing anything to lift your low spirits, there’s always Terrence B. Volunteer to participate in one of his hypnotist shows and you may find yourself involuntarily singing, dancing or getting slightly cozy with the stranger sitting next to you.
Additional booths and attractions will feature embroidery, ground acts, junior livestock show, cooking contest, cow-milking contests, hog-calling contest, scrap-booking, flowering shrubs, cookie baking, dried fruit stands, table setting, quilts and brownie baking.
“The livestock auctions are the biggest in the area. … It’s always fun to see how excited the kids get about interacting with the animals each year,” McCluskey said.
The Demolition Derby, one of the biggest crowd-drawers at the fair, will be held on Sunday. Featuring the energetic antics of warring cars making “metal sandwiches” of each other throughout a crowded arena, this event is usually a sell-out, and draws drivers from all over Northern California.
Richard Byrum, vice president of Butler Amusements, said that although the types of attractions don’t vary much from year to year, the diverse crowd is always what adds a distinctive flavor to the festivities.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at email@example.com.